French class-action lawsuits back on the agenda

13th July 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, July 13, 2007 (AFP) - French consumer groups welcomed Thursday news that the government would draw up plans for class-action lawsuits, a disputed project that had been shelved by the previous administration.

PARIS, July 13, 2007 (AFP) - French consumer groups welcomed Thursday news that the government would draw up plans for class-action lawsuits, a disputed project that had been shelved by the previous administration.

President Nicolas Sarkozy instructed Economy Minister Christine Lagarde on Wednesday to create a "French class action" in cooperation with Luc Chatel, deputy minister for consumer affairs.

Class-action lawsuits allow consumers to collectively pursue companies in court, giving individuals more leverage but occasionally leading to cases of abuse by unscrupulous lawyers or organisations.

Consumer groups UFC-Que Choisir and CLCV were pleased the idea had finally gotten official backing, but the latter nonetheless warned it "could not be satisfied with a text that did not respond to consumers' needs."

The group referred to a previous project under consideration by the administration of former president Jacques Chirac which included restrictions the groups had considered unacceptable.

For example, once a collective lawsuit had been settled, consumers would have had to negotiate individually for compensation.

An indemnity cap of 2,000 euros (2,750 dollars) was also foreseen under the initial plan.
 
French business groups had also opposed the previous bill, which was withdrawn in February, and the General Confederation of Small and Medium sized Enterprises has already pressed this time for a tight framework "to avoid American-style abuses."

The group expressed concern that such lawsuits might be used to pressure companies into making concessions unrelated to cases under consideration, and "demanded that consumer organisations that launched abusive procedures also face financial sanctions."


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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